Capital in the Nineteenth Century

Capital in the Nineteenth Century

Robert E. Gallman and Paul W. Rhode

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226633114

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

A nation’s capital stock is widely recognized as a crucial determinant of the productivity of its workers and the standard of living of its citizens. Tracking the evolution of capital is therefore a critical input to economic history. Economist Robert E. Gallman (1926–98) gathered extensive data on US capital stock and created a legacy that has, until now, been difficult for researchers to access and appraise in its entirety. Gallman measured American capital stock from a range of perspectives, viewing it as the accumulation of income saved and invested, and as an input into the production process. He used the level and change in the capital stock as proxy measures for long-run economic performance. Analyzing data in this way from the end of the US colonial period to the turn of the twentieth century, Gallman provided a firm empirical foundation for our knowledge of the long nineteenth century—the period during which the United States began to experience per capita income growth and became a global economic leader. Gallman’s research was painstaking and his analysis meticulous, but he did not publish the material supporting his findings during his lifetime. Here Paul W. Rhode completes this project, giving permanence to a great economist’s insights and craftsmanship